We are in Manley Slough and the sun is beating down gold and gorgeous on my neck and shoulders. We are gliding in a flurry of interrupted water through the reflections of the blue sky and the vivid green banks. Geoff is driving and Daazhraii and I are napping and writing, respectively. The water in the slough is still and translucently brown, like black tea with a little summer sunshine lemon zest. It has its own smell, swampier and thicker than the dusty-smelling Tanana.
I had the very best bath of my life this morning. Daazhraii and I went for a run on our sandbar-island, dodging the wet, thick sand around the puddles and aiming for dry ridges and crusty flats. When I got back to camp, I waded into the Tanana to rinse the sweat off my face and found myself grinning and wading deeper. The water was refreshingly cool, but not cold. Lemonade with mint. Gin and tonic.
Geoff was sitting in the boat with the camp stove, making coffee. He passed me the soap and put an extra pot of clean water on to heat. When it came time to rinse my hair, I held onto the gunwale and he poured clean, warm water through my hair where I stood, waist deep in the river with the sun on my back.
We dodged thunderstorms all the way from skeeter camp yesterday. My favorite part of rain and near-rain is the smells: waves of spruce or ginger-sticky cottonwood that pass low and startling over the water in the thick, humid air. We felt so lucky, dodging all those storms yesterday. We kept an eye on the dark clouds. They billowed up from behind the mountains and swept down on us time after time. We put on our rain gear again and again when a direct hit felt inevitable, and again and again we floated on, untouched, in a bubble of sunlight.